Here’s a big myth about resumes: once it gets you an interview, it’s tossed into a corner and never referenced again.
Related: Help! My Resume Is Dead On Arrival
During the course of hiring someone, a resume will go through multiple screenings. The first will be a cursory, “broad strokes” pass by either an Applicant Tracking System or a person to filter out the clearly unqualified and compile a list of interviewees. Employers will often bring in candidates who don’t fit the job posting 100% to see what else they’re bringing to the table at this stage.
After Interview #1, your resume goes through another screening process. More critical this time, with an eye towards picking out vulnerabilities that may not have been discovered initially. Usually, the bigger the role, the more people involved in this second screen: executives, HR, future supervisor/boss, and so on. And they’re ALL on the lookout for “red flags” such as:
Inaccurate word usage, typos and formatting/layout errors.
2. Work Gaps.
Unexplained gaps in employment longer than a few months will be flagged.
3. Lack Of Match-Up Between Job Titles And Actual Responsibilities.
If your last job was as a Director of Marketing, but the resume makes it seem like you were more of a Manager (and the interview did little to change this perception) that’s going to be an issue.
4. Weak Or Scattered Career History.
Nothing builds confidence on the part of employers quite like someone who has already succeeded in related roles. If that’s missing, or not effectively communicated, then you’ll seem like more of a risk.
5. Too Strong Career History.
This is the dreaded “Overqualified” tag rearing its head.
6. Too Much Unrelated Information.
Do you understand your strengths well enough to play to them, while de-emphasizing those aspects which don’t pertain to the job at hand?
7. Personal Information That Raises Concern.
Controversial affiliations (ex. political, religious), adding inappropriate details such as marital status, and so on.
And what can you do to address them?
Invest the time to go over your resume with a fine-toothed comb for inaccuracies and errors (or hire a Certified Resume Writer to craft a powerful new resume on your behalf). Your resume can either be the greatest asset or the greatest liability in your job search efforts- make sure it’s the former!
Create a brief “Career Note” within the resume that directly addresses any work gaps. It’s important to spin this in a way that makes it come across as a positive. If you did anything remotely career-related (course, volunteer or consulting work) highlight this first.
Accomplishments, accomplishments, accomplishments! Your resume needs to show action, initiative and results above all else. Merely listing tasks is a waste of space. Gather accomplishments (with metrics wherever possible) and structure the resume to highlight them for every position you’ve held that’s relevant to the job you want.
Only include the most basic personal information (phone, email, LinkedIn URL up top, major certifications and industry affiliations at the bottom).
Overqualified? You’re probably aiming too low. Run an advanced search on LinkedIn to find candidates with a roughly similar background who have made jumps in seniority/responsibility level (ex. Manager to Director). What types of job titles do they have? Make a list of at least 10-12 and use these as the compass for your job search efforts.
About the author
Anish Majumdar, CEO of ResumeOrbit.com is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, LinkedIn expert, and interview coach. Surveyed clients report a 40-60% reduction in placement times through working with him, and typically secure offers at least $10-40K higher. Schedule a free LIVE Resume Critique with Anish, or connect with him on LinkedIn.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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